Low Back Exercises

Exercise can be the key to your recovery, as well as a good prevention against future pain. Our physicians have developed an exercise routine with easy explanations and diagrams to help you follow them properly. The purpose of these exercises is to promote flexibility and strengthen the spinal musculature.


INSTRUCTIONS

Unless instructed otherwise, do each exercise 1 to 5 repetitions, twice each day. Gradually increase your workout to 10 repetitions twice a day. Use slow, smooth actions as you exercise.


If you feel any discomfort while doing the exercises, stop immediately and contact your physician. Stop any exercise that increases back pain or causes tingling, numbness, or weakness in your legs.

Double knee-to-chest stretch
  • Lie down on back.
  • Pull both knees in to chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in lower back.
  • Keep the back relaxed.
  • Hold for 45 to 60 seconds.
Pelvic tilt exercise
  • Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor, and arms at sides (a)
  • Flatten small of back against floor. (Hips will tilt upward.) (b)
  • Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and release. Gradually increase your holding time to 60 seconds.
Lower trunk rotation stretch
  • Lie on back.
  • Keeping back flat and feet together, rotate knees to one side.
  • Hold for 45 to 60 seconds.
Curl-up exercise
  • Lie on the floor on back.
  • Keeping arms folded across chest, tilt pelvis to flatten back. Tuck chin into chest.
  • Tighten abdominal muscles while raising head and shoulders from floor.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and release.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times. Gradually increase your repetitions.
Trunk flexion stretch
  • On hands and knees, tuck in chin and arch back.
  • Slowly sit back on heels, letting shoulders drop toward floor.
  • Hold for 45 to 60 seconds.

 

Alternate arm-leg extension exercise
  • Face floor on hands and knees.
  • Raise left arm and right leg. Do not arch neck.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and release.
  • Raise right arm and left leg. Do not arch neck.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and release.
Prone Lumbar Extension
Purpose: To extend your lower back.
  • Lie on your stomach and place your hands on the floor near the sides of your head.
  • Slowly push your upper body off the floor by straightening your arms, but keep your hips on the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax your arms, moving back to the floor.
Alternate leg extension
Lie on your stomach with your arms folded under your chin. Slowly lift one leg -- not too high -- without bending it, while keeping your pelvis flat on the floor. Slowly lower your leg and repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring stretch while standing
  • Stand on right leg with left leg on table/chair.
  • Stretch hamstring by slowly bending right knee.
  • Hold for 30-45 sec.
  • Repeat with other leg.

 

MORE EXERCISES

Regular exercises to restore the strength of your back and a gradual return to everyday activities are important for your full recovery. Your orthopaedic surgeon and physical therapist may recommend that you exercise 10 to 30 minutes a day one to three times a day during your early recovery. They may suggest some of the following exercises. This guide can help you better understand your exercise and activity program, supervised by your therapist and orthopaedic surgeon.

 

Initial Exercise Program

 

Ankle Pumps - Lie on your back. Move ankles up and down.
Repeat 10 times.

 

 

Heel Slides - Lie on your back. Slowly bend and straighten knee.
Repeat 10 times.

 

 

Abdominal Contraction - Lie on your back with knees bent and hands resting
below ribs. Tighten abdominal muscles to squeeze ribs down toward back.
Be sure not to hold breath. Hold 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat 10 times.

 

 

Wall Squats - Stand with back leaning against wall. Walk feet 12 inches in
front of body. Keep abdominal muscles tight while slowly bending both knees
45 degrees. Hold 5 seconds. Slowly return to upright position. Repeat 10 times.

 

 

Heel Raises - Stand with weight even on both feet. Slowly raise heels up and
down. Repeat 10 times.

 

 

Straight Leg Raises - Lie on your back with one leg straight and one knee
bent. Tighten abdominal muscles to stabilize low back. Slowly lift leg straight up
about 6 to 12 inches and hold 1 to 5 seconds. Lower leg slowly. Repeat 10 times.

 

 

Intermediate Exercise Program

 

Single Knee to Chest Stretch - Lie on your back with both knees bent.
Holdthigh behind knee and bring one knee up to chest. Hold 20 seconds.
Relax.Repeat 5 times on each side.

 

 

Hamstring Stretch - Lie on your back with legs bent. Hold one thigh behind
knee. Slowly straighten knee until a stretch is felt in back of thigh. Hold
20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times on each side.

 

 

Lumbar Stabilization Exercises With Swiss Ball - Abdominal muscles must remain contracted during each exercise. See "Abdominal Contraction" exercise from initial exercise program. Perform each exercise for 60 seconds. The further the ball is from your body, the harder the exercise.

 

 

Lie on your back with knees bent and calves resting on ball.
1. Slowly raise arm over head and lower arm, alternating right and left sides.
2. Slowly straighten one knee and relax, alternating right and left sides.
3. Slowly straighten one knee and raise opposite arm over head.Alternate
opposite arms and legs.
4. Slowly "walk" ball forward and backward with legs.

 

 

Sitting on ball with hips and knees bent 90 degrees and feet
resting on floor.

1. Slowly raise arm over head and lower arm, alternating right and left sides.
2. Slowly raise and lower heel, alternating right and left sides.
3. Slowly raise one heel and raise opposite arm over head. Alternate opposite
arm and heel.
4. Marching: Slowly raise one foot 2 inches from floor, alternating right
and left sides.

 

 

Standing with ball between your low back and wall.
1. Slowly bend knees 45 to 90 degrees. Hold 5 seconds. Straighten knees.
2. Slowly bend knees 45 to 90 degrees while raising both arms over head.

 

 


Lie on your stomach over ball.
1. Slowly raise alternate arms over head.
2. Slowly raise alternate legs 2 to 4 inches off of floor.
3. Combine 1 and 2, alternating opposite arms and legs.
4. Bend one knee. Slowly lift this leg up, alternating right and left legs.
Be careful not to arch your low back!

 

 

Advanced Exercise Program

 

Hip Flexor Stretch - Lie on your back near edge of bed, holding knees to
chest. Slowly lower one leg down, keeping knee bent, until a stretch is felt
across top of the hip/thigh. Hold 20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times on each side.

 

 

Piriformis Stretch - Lie on back with both knees bent. Cross one leg on top
of the other. Pull opposite knee to chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock/hip
area. Hold 20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times each side.

 

 
Lumbar Stabilization Exercises With Swiss Ball

Lie on stomach over ball.
1. "Walk" hands out in front of ball until ball is under legs. Reverse
to starting position.
2. "Walk" hands out in front of ball until ball is under legs and slowly
raise alternating arms over head.
3. "Walk" hands out in front of ball and slowly perform push-ups.